Homage to Rick and Rita Who Turned the World Upside Down
When people make a difference in your life and when your life is simply better because you were in their presence, then you can most often be assured that the spark of the Divine resides in their soul. Rick Pruett and Rita Jones Westbrook are two people who unexpectedly died in the past three months who always made my day better just because I had the pleasure of being in their presence and talking with them.
Rick Pruett, owner of Rick Pruett Tire/VIP Auto Care in Flowery Branch, Georgia was a trustworthy, honest business owner whose business has taken care of our family cars for over 15 years. His employees were an ethnic and socio-economic mix that spoke the words of inclusiveness, acceptance, and the love of Christ. Through ongoing conversations every two to three months for oil changes and regular car maintenance, I learned that Rick's mother was a minister (like me) and that he was a musician. He was humble, with me, about his guitar skills; and I know that he was an extraordinary guitar artist. He loved his work. He loved his play. He loved serving people. He loved God. I knew this every time I talked with him through his smile, his words of encouragement, and his humor. I trusted him, his employees, and knew I could count on excellent auto care.
In May when I took my car for an oil change and tire rotation, Rick was not there--unusual, but not totally unexpected as that had happened on occasion before when I dropped off my car. I did not really think too much of it. Then in June when my husband took in his car, Rick was not there so he asked about Rick. The shocking reply was that Rick had died unexpectedly while having heart valve surgery. When I heard this news, I was stunned and saddened.
A bright light of Christ has returned home to God, and oh my Lord, I do miss him. I pray for his family, his friends, and for myself and all his customers who are are grieving and missing our brother in Christ. And then there is Miss Rita.
Rita Jones Westbrook who I always referred to as a "Southern Spitfire"--this is a compliment of the highest regard in my book. I met Miss Rita when I served as one of the associate pastors at Duluth First UMC. Rita had the gift of hospitality and served it daily and served it well. She could cook and bake. She found out that I loved Southern "fried corn," and she knew that Silver Queen corn is the only corn for "fried corn." Rita would regularly bring me a bag of Silver Queen corn ready for cooking. All I had to do was cook it--this means Rita had done the hard work of scraping it off the cob so that it was ready to cook. She even brought me frozen corn throughout the winter. Rita was another bright light of Christ in this world who taught children and youth about the love of Christ through the way she lived and also as their Sunday school and confirmation leader.
Unexpectedly, Rita died in an automobile accident. Another light of Christ that had a smile along with a Southern accent that just "lit up your life" any time you saw her was gone from my life. My grief for this loss is huge, too, and I pray for her family, friends, myself and the Duluth community that are missing her. She, too, has returned home to God, and I am left to remember my sister in Christ.
Both Rick and Rita were in their fifties--short lives in my reference since, I, too, am in my fifties.
Cherish the people who are the light of Christ in your life. Especially those like Rick and Rita who have the spark of the Divine in them that leaks out of their souls and touches numerous lives every day. They are special saints that God gave us even if their lives seem brief.
Thank you Lord, for the special blessing that I had of knowing these disciples that added meaning and the love of Christ in my life every time I was in their presence. They turned the world upside down. Thanks be to God.